Market Vendors show camaraderie after severe floods

Date: Saturday, April 14, 2018

Fiji — In the wake of Tropical Cyclone Josie in April 2018, severe flooding struck several parts of Fiji. The flooding in Ba and other areas badly affected market vendors, their markets and businesses, with many people evacuated.

Nausori Market Vendors Association President, Venina Vakarusere (left) and Nitesh Prasad, Ba Market Vendors Association President (right) at the handover of ration packs following severe floods in Fiji. Photo: UN Women/ Mouna Peters
Nausori Market Vendors Association President, Venina Vakarusere (left) and Nitesh Prasad, Ba Market Vendors Association President (right) at the handover of ration packs following severe floods in Fiji. Photo: UN Women/ Mouna Peters

For Venina Vakarusere, President of the Nausori Market Vendors Association, the drive to support vendors at the Ba Market came naturally. With shared goals and challenges, and after building relationships through UN Women’s Markets for Change project, Venina highlights that market vendor associations are “a big family.”

“The pain and hurt that hit the vendors in Ba market touched our hearts. The unity in our market moved us to quickly sit down and have a talk about it, and then go to Market Master. It was done out of love.

“I see that all the markets in Fiji are like one family because we all know each other now, so we should look out for each other.,” she said.

Venina said vendors at the Nausori market started a collection drive after hearing about the floods and how it had affected fellow vendors in Ba, located on the Western side of the main island, Viti Levu. They gathered enough contributions for 150 ration packs. Nausori market is situated on the Eastern side of the island, three and a half hours drive away.

Ba Market Vendors Association President Nitesh Prasad said they were moved by the gesture and kindness shown by the Nausori MVA and are grateful for their assistance.

“I was really touched when I saw the Nausori vendors, and I want to thank them very much for doing this, for thinking of us and coming to help the Ba market vendors just a few days after the flood. They were first to come to help us.”

Nitesh said all the vendors in Ba market were affected badly as this was one of the worst floods they have experienced.

“Because the flooding happened in the weekend, most vendors lost their stock and supplies. Not all vendors live near the town and they couldn’t come to the market because the areas where they live were already flooded.”

Ration packs included food items such as sugar, rice, flour, tea, bread, sacks of root crops and coconuts, as well as clothes for the affected vendors and their families. The packs were delivered at the Ba Market Women’s Bure to a crowd of close to 200 people. In the audience was: Fiji’s Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Public Enterprises, Civil Service and Communications, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who was carrying out post-cyclone inspections; Ba Town Council CEO; Market Managers from Nausori and Ba Markets; town council staff; MVA committee reps from both markets; and market vendors.

UN Women Fiji Multi Country Office Representative a.i., Mr. Nicolas Burniat said the show of solidarity between the market vendor associations was both heart-warming and a proud moment for the UN Women Fiji Multi Country Office Markets for Change programme, which works to strengthen market vendor associations.

“As a development agency, you know you are making a sustainable difference when your partners start implementing national south-south cooperation of their own initiative,” he said.

For more information:

Sarika Chand
Communications & Media Analyst, UN Women Fiji MCO

About M4C Project

UN Women’s Markets for Change (M4C) project is a six-year, multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. A UN Women project, M4C is principally funded by the Australian Government, and implemented in partnership with UNDP.

M4C is the flagship project within the UN Women’s programme for Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Pacific region. Between 75-90 per cent of vendors working at Pacific marketplaces are women and their earnings often make up a significant portion of the incomes of many poor households. Despite this, women are often excluded from market governance and decision-making. M4C works with stakeholders, service providers and the market vendors themselves to: build and support inclusive, effective and representative advocacy groups; deliver appropriate services, training and interventions; ensure women’s voices are heard and taken into account at the decision-making level; and to improve physical infrastructure and operating systems.